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Top 5 best ways Jets can win the offseason with Christa Levitas

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FLORHAM PARK, NJ - JANUARY 21: New York Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan addresses the media during a press conference on January 21, 2015 in Florham Park, New Jersey. Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles were both introduced for the first time. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
FLORHAM PARK, NJ - JANUARY 21: New York Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan addresses the media during a press conference on January 21, 2015 in Florham Park, New Jersey. Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles were both introduced for the first time. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
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FLORHAM PARK, NJ – JANUARY 21: New York Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan addresses the media during a press conference on January 21, 2015 in Florham Park, New Jersey. Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles were both introduced for the first time. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
FLORHAM PARK, NJ – JANUARY 21: New York Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan addresses the media during a press conference on January 21, 2015 in Florham Park, New Jersey. Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles were both introduced for the first time. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

The New York Jets are ready for the long offseason ahead as they have a lot of areas to address and hopefully, make some big decisions to make them contenders again sooner than later. The Jet Press sits with Christa Levitas to discuss how Gang Green can win the offseason.

Another regular season is in the books for the New York Jets as in 2017, they ended with a consecutive 5-11 record. It was an interesting season, to say the least. We saw some great development, some boneheaded decisions when it came to coaching/play-calling, but for the most part, had a year that showcased a lot of young, promising talent.

With free agency on the horizon and the 2018 NFL Draft, the Jets are in a very good situation. They’ll have a lot of salary cap money to work with and a full draft class that should hopefully bolster their team for next season. It won’t be easy but general manager Mike Maccagnan is undoubtedly the right guy for the job to continue with the task at hand but how will he attack one of the most important offseasons in franchise history?

I sit today with one of my favorite writers of Locker Room Update, Christa Levitas, who will join me in discussing the top five ways for the Jets to win the offseason. In case you didn’t know, she has written a plethora of articles on the Jets and specializes in interviews with rookie prospects that are about to enter the pros via the NFL Draft.

Alright Jets Nation, let’s get right to our sit down breaking down how the Jets can bolster their team and continue rebuilding the right way with a winning offseason. Also, please give a like to the Facebook page of Locker Room Update to stay in the loop of their work and feel free to follow Christa on Twitter.

Next: 5. First position to address in free agency?

CINCINNATI, OH – DECEMBER 24: Ezekiel Ansah #94 of the Detroit Lions sacks Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH – DECEMBER 24: Ezekiel Ansah #94 of the Detroit Lions sacks Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

5. First position to address in free agency?

LTJ: Greetings Christa! First off, thanks so much for sitting with me to discuss yet another offseason of Jets fun! Hopefully, with all their salary cap money and a full 2018 NFL Draft class, these beloved Jets of ours will win more football games in 2018. Now, as far as free agency goes, which position do you see them going after first in FA?

CL: Anytime Luis, thanks for the opportunity! That’s a tough one. For me personally, I’m hoping that if either Demarcus Lawrence or Ziggy Ansah become free agents that Maccagnan will be aggressive and go after one of them. I believe pass rusher along with the QB position are the most important positions the Jets need to improve on this offseason. We’ve seen this season and how the Jets are always giving opposing QB’s too much time to throw. Jets have not had an answer at pass rusher since John Abraham. Lawrence is 25 and ended the season with 14.5 sacks. While Ansah, who is a few years older, ended the year with 12 sacks. Both would be a major upgrade and would greatly help our pass rush.

LTJ: I completely agree with that, Christa! The Jets need some major help when it comes to their pass rush. Since the Jets will have close to over $100 million in salary cap space after they make some player cuts this offseason, they’ll hopefully be able to address their pass rush by adding some speedy defensive ends or linebackers. For me personally, I’d love to see them go right for the jugular and either be aggressive with quarterback Kirk Cousins or even Jarvis Landry if they hit free agency. Do the Jets realistically have a shot to land top free agents since I know they’re not the most attractive team in free agency?

CL: With the amount of money the Jets have, I think anything is possible. I’m not saying by any means the Jets are going to overpay for anyone but one point I would like that mention is what Jets beat writer Dennis Waszak Jr. tweeted out after the Jets gave the extension to Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles. He mentioned that stability with the team’s head coach and general manager is a positive factor along with the environment and the vibe. I agree with him these are all positive pieces that free agents like and how the Jets can potentially attract top free agents. I believe the Jets will target players who they believe can be building blocks moving forward.

Next: 4. Top internal free agents to re-sign?

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 24: Demario Davis #56 of the New York Jets celebrates a tackle against the Miami Dolphins during the first half of an NFL game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 24: Demario Davis #56 of the New York Jets celebrates a tackle against the Miami Dolphins during the first half of an NFL game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

4. Top internal free agents to re-sign?

LTJ: Besides the potential players the Jets could sign this offseason, they have a lot of their own players that are also unrestricted free agents. From Demario Davis, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Josh McCown, and even Morris Claiborne could potentially hit the market. Which of the top internal free agents of the Jets do you feel they should re-sign?

CL: I feel like the Jets should sign Davis back. He’s a great leader on defense who was also very productive on the field. He ended the season with 138 total tackles and five sacks. I also believe the Jets should resign Seferian-Jenkins. The Jets took a chance on him and it paid off. I know his production went down towards the end of the season but I believe a lot was due to quarterback play. He’s also very young and I don’t think we’ve seen his full potential yet. I’d also love to see the Jets re-sign Claiborne. He’s still young. He was the closest thing the Jets had to a No. 1 cornerback last year. If the Jets plan on drafting a quarterback in the first round, I absolutely believe the Jets should bring back McCown since he’s the perfect bridge quarterback for whoever the Jets draft at quarterback. I believe he’s the best fit for Jeremy Bates offense.

LTJ: I completely agree with you but something tells me the Jets might lose Seferian-Jenkins in free agency. Seferian-Jenkins was a solid tight end for the Jets that did just enough to warrant the interest of other teams if he hits the free agency market. If he does bolt to another team, I’m confident tight end Jordan Leggett can step up and deliver, provided he’s healthy again. The kid was pretty good at Clemson and even though he was hurt all of last season, should be a pleasant surprise this upcoming season. The top internal free agent the Jets must sign is Davis. His leadership, production, and turnaround from what we saw in the past have earned him a bigger contract and more long-term stability. Out of all the players, I hope Maccagnan gives Davis the contract he deserves since he went above and beyond the call of duty last season. Could you believer kicker Chandler Catanzaro is also an unrestricted free agent? Should he stay or go? I’d say he should be brought back as for the season, he went 25/30 in field goal attempts.

CL: I agree with you about Davis. You make some good points. Sadly, I could see that happening with Seferian-Jenkins. Leggett would get the opportunity to step up if that were the case. It also would not surprise me if the Jets did somehow lose Seferian-Jenkins that they potentially drafted a tight end as insurance. I thought Chandler Catanzaro did a pretty good job this year. He was a great leg for kick off and was good at field goals.

Next: 3. A game of what ifs

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 31: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins throws a pass during the first half of their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 31, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 31: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins throws a pass during the first half of their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 31, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images)

3. A game of what ifs

LTJ: Alright Christa. Let’s play a game of what ifs! I’ll ask first then you can ask a “what if?” question after. What if the Jets end up making a blockbuster off and actually land quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency. Would that make the Jets immediate contenders in 2018 and would they still select another quarterback in this year’s draft?

CL: Tough to say honestly. I will say that Cousins will be a big improvement from what the Jets had at quarterback. Potentially signing Cousins allows the Jets to keep all of their draft picks and not worry about moving up. It also gives them the option to go best player available at 6 or move down for more picks to a quarterback-needy team. The Jets could also use the picks to improve other positions on this roster and not be stuck or worried about not getting the quarterback of their choice at 6. If the Jets do in fact pull off signing Cousins, I can’t see them drafting a quarterback early simply because it would be a bad advocation of resources. But it’s possible if the Jets like a quarterback in the later rounds it’s possible they could draft him. Now, for my “what if” question! If the Jets don’t sign Cousins and either the Redskins keep him or another team signs him, what’s your plan B in terms of a quarterback? Would you like to see the Jets retain McCown, go after another veteran, or is there a specific quarterback in the draft you have your eye on?

LTJ: Ideally, I’d love it if the Jets landed Cousins but as always, anything can happen once the free agency frenzy hits. If they don’t get him, I’m a huge Case Keenum fan as he’d be an inexpensive Plan B that would fit the Jets offense well. He’d be an instant starter and hold the fort down as in that scenario, I’d fully expect the Jets to also draft the best quarterback available at No. 6 to be his backup. When it comes to McCown, I love his leadership, personality, and what he accomplished last season but it’s time for the Jets to move on since he won’t replicate what he did in 2017. Okay, final what if question for you, Christa! What if the Jets want to add another running back to the mix besides Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire since Matt Forte is most likely not coming back this season? Do you acquire a free agent running back, draft one, or rock with just the two of them?

CL: Looking at the FA RB class, I know Le’Veon Bell is the most talked about running back from the free agent class and rightfully so. I’d pass, however. That’s not to say Bell isn’t good or anything as he is an extremely talented running back. I just do not believe in giving big money to a running back and he has a lot of wear and tear from his time as a Steeler. He also had two suspensions and has 1,229 regular season carries which is insane. Those red flags just turn me off. Carlos Hyde is intriguing but again I would not pay big money for a running back and I’d still much prefer for the Jets to draft a running back from this year’s draft. This draft class offers a lot of talented types of running backs. I think McGuire and Powell are good complimentary running backs but the Jets should draft a running back that is a bell cow. Powell as good as he has been for us is 30 and I’m hoping this season we actually see more of McGuire

Next: 2. How to upgrade the offensive line for 2018?

2. How to upgrade the offensive line for 2018?

LTJ: It’s no secret the Jets offensive line is easily the worst positional group on the team. How would you upgrade their offensive line so we don’t have another abysmal performance in 2018?

CL: I would first look in free agency. I like Ryan Jensen, the center from the Baltimore Ravens who is a free agent. I would draft offensive line early as well. The last time the Jets drafted an offensive line in the first three rounds of a draft was Brian Winters. The Jets need to start taking a higher priority to drafting an offensive lineman early in the draft.

More from The Jet Press

LTJ: I completely agree and even wrote about why the Jets should try to acquire Jensen since he’s consistent, young, and is easily an upgrade over center Wesley Johnson. Believe it or not, on the NY Jets Reddit, some fans were thinking about bringing back center Nick Mangold. I was against it since I remember his last year with the Jets as an injury-filled one and saw his decline as a player. I love Mangold but realistically, his football career is over. What do you think?

CL: I have a lot of love for Nick Mangold so much to the point where I didn’t want the Jets to part ways with him. As much as I love him and I truly understand why fans love and miss him, I think it’s time to move on.

Next: 1. The Jets will ultimately win the offseason if...

CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 08: Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets looks on in the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 08: Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets looks on in the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

1. The Jets will ultimately win the offseason if…

LTJ: Christa, thank you again for sitting down with me and doing this joint piece together but the biggest question awaits! What in your opinion is the ultimate way the Jets can win the offseason once all is said and done?

CL: My pleasure! Thank you again for the opportunity! The best way the Jets can handle free agency is to spend wisely. Learn from 2015, don’t think just about building for the next season or two, build for the future. Do not pay for aging veterans on a decline as it’s best to get young guys who are just about to hit their potential. Get young guys who you can build around and whatever you do, don’t overpay for veterans. Also, be aggressive if there are certain players in free agency you love. That would be my advice for the Jets for free agency!

LTJ: I completely agree and would only add one thing. I’d say to bring in players that understand and know that there is a process and end result in all this. Yeah, the Jets might once again not win many games in 2018 but are building something special for the future. The Jets are a team on the rise and will only get better over time as they rebuild through the draft and wisely acquire free agents that have an upside to contribute heavily to that end result. Christa, any final words for Jets Nation who are holding onto hope that the Jets won’t mess this offseason up?

Must Read: Grading entire Jets 2017 NFL Draft class after rookie year

CL: I agree with you, Luis! I think there’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a Jets fan. The Jets have a ton of cap space and they have three picks in the top 50 in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft. I believe the Jets have a bright future!

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